Confusion kept her hooked. Jenny knew deep in her bones that something was not quite right. Did he REALLY brush his hand against her breast? Surely it could not be so. He was a priest for God’s sake! And Christ the King was on his study wall. But no, Jenny could not think thoughts like that. A priest would NEVER do that – and Jenny felt sinful for even thinking such things. She should wash her mind.
It was not as if they were in the house alone together. His wife was always around, either in the kitchen or the garden. And Jenny got invited into the family. He had hinted a few times that after their meeting she might stay for lunch, and Jenny was filled with excitement. Now she really WOULD see how the other half lived. She couldn’t wait.
Then came the day. It had not been planned. Well, not as far as she knew. She was to find out later that a LOT had been planned, and she had become a willing pawn in it all. She ought to have guessed when he told her one day that his wife would make a good ally, and that she was utterly loyal. She would even cover up a crime for him, he said. Jenny had felt startled at this statement, but decided to let it go. Maybe he was just fond of making outrageous statements. Indeed, he had made many that had shocked her. She was led into the massive vicarage kitchen. Surprisingly, it was nothing special. She had expected an expensive good looking wooden table, and posh crockery and cutlery. But the table, though large, was just a melamine topped one, and the crockery had come from a stall in the market. She this because his wife told her. The food itself, though quite pleasant, was nothing out of the ordinary. Just a shepherds pie made up from the remains of the Sunday roast. But they made her welcome, in a strange kind of a way. Jill was not too talkative, and seemed rather shy, but he had told her that she suffered from depression and that she took tablets every day to keep it under control. In fact Jill seemed rather like a little girl. She ate mechanically, as if being a good little child at the table. He, just the opposite, did everything in an exaggerated, almost theatrical manner. Jenny was not quite sure what to make of it all, but in a weird way it was kind of enjoyable. Her curiosity, however, was roused even more by this strange pair. Jill seemed very constrained, and Jenny felt a bit like an intruder.
When lunch was finished, he turned to his wife and said,
“I’m going up now darling. Are you coming too?”
Jill was non committal. He went up on his own, leaving Jenny and Jill together. Jill smiled, a kind of watery smile, as if she was not quite used to doing it. At the same time, however, she flashed her left hand at Jill, so that her large, expensive looking engagement ring was on full view. Jenny could not have failed to see it, and she knew instinctively that Jill was giving her a message. Jenny herself had a faltering marriage, and he must have told Jill about it, because Jill suddenly made the statement,
“I married for love.”
Jenny’s eyes went to the wooden unit at the side of her, and there she saw a piece of PAPER. On it was written “1 p.m. Jenny lunch.” So it HAD been planned.
Jenny began to get rather a strange feeling inside. So many jarring things. Him “accidentally” brushing his hand across her breast. Him saying that Jill would even cover up for him in a crime, and suggesting she would be a good ally. A good ally in WHAT? And, to top it all, the lie. There had been a murder in the small town many years previous. The case had recently been opened again, and there had been a plea for new evidence. It was the talk of the town. It was a young woman who had been murdered in the graveyard, and the killer had never been found. Jenny, new to the area, had asked him if he had been there at the time of the murder, and he had told her that he had not yet moved there. But on looking it up, Jenny discovered that he HAD been there at the time. He had moved there to take up the post as incumbent a few weeks previous to the murder. (To be continued)